What Does The Bible Say About Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday that has been celebrated for centuries around the world as a time for giving thanks for good harvests and peace. But what does the Bible teach about this holiday? This article will explore the Biblical roots of Thanksgiving, the importance of gratitude in the Bible, and some of the customs associated with it in modern times.

The Bible teaches that Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate God’s goodness and mercy. Throughout scripture, we see the Israelites offering up thanks to God for his blessings, even in the most difficult of times. As Psalm 107:1 declares, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” Other passages reminding believers of God’s goodness include Psalm 136:1, Colossians 3:15, and Psalm 100:4.

Gratitude is also a key theme in the Bible, with many verses urging us to be thankful for the blessings and mercies of God. Proverbs 15:22 advises us that a “thankful heart is good medicine,” and Colossians 4:2 commands us to “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday, but a spiritual discipline that should be practiced throughout the year.

For centuries, people around the world have celebrated Thanksgiving with various customs. In the United States, the holiday often involves gathering with family and friends to share a meal and express gratitude for the blessings of the year. Traditional dishes such as roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie are staples of the occasion, as are festivities such as parades, football games, and charitable giving.

The modern holiday of Thanksgiving has its roots in the Biblical celebration of harvest. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 23:4 commands the Israelites to offer up a thanksgiving offering to God for the blessings of the harvest. Similarly, Deuteronomy 16:7-8 instructs them to keep a festival to “give thanks to the Lord your God.” On this day, they were to “remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you.”

Intersecting religious beliefs and domestic customs, Jewish families in the United States also celebrate ingredients of Thanksgiving. Serving up favorite dishes such as kugel, squash, and tzimmes, they express gratitude for God’s divine blessings in their lives, such as health, safety, and wealth. Rabbis often use the Thanksgiving holiday to expound upon Jewish scriptures in the Torah and to affirm the faith’s traditional belief that God rewards those who are intrinsically thankful and generous.

Thanksgiving Day is about more than just a meal and giving thanks for one day. It’s about living a thankful life throughout the year. As 1 Thessalonians 5:18 proclaims, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Regardless of one’s faith, it is important to take time to reflect on the many blessings we have and to express gratitude for them.

The Meaning of Thankfulness and Gratitude

The words “thankfulness” and “gratitude” are often used interchangeably, but they actually have different connotations. Thankfulness is an attitude of being grateful and appreciative, while gratitude is the act of expressing that appreciation. Thanksgiving encourages people to be thankfulness, the cornerstone of Christian faith, stating in Colossians 3:15: “And be thankful”. When believers express their gratitude to God, they not only thank Him for the blessings of their lives, but they also show their complete dependence on Him.

Thankfulness is more than just verbal acknowledgement of blessings. It must be more than a feeling, but a lifestyle that reflects a desire to acknowledge and appreciate God for all He has done. As 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. Therefore, those who have faith in Christ should be constantly giving thanks for all the blessings the Lord gives each day.

The practice of thankfulness and gratitude is especially important in times of trouble and difficulty. The Bible commands us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. This is a reminder that despite difficult times or circumstances, God’s grace is still present and we can still express our thankfulness to Him.

The Benefits of Being Thankful

Being thankful has numerous benefits, both in the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms. Research has found that daily expressions of gratitude, such as a simple “thank you” or a thoughtful card, can lead to increased levels of happiness, improved physical health, and a general feeling of calmness. Expressions of gratitude can also deepen relationships and create more authentic connections.

These benefits can extend far beyond the individual. A recent study found that thankfulness also had positive effects on the people around us – to be more exact, thankful people had 26% more helpful and supportive family members, compared to 30% for those who were not thankful. Therefore, gratitude is not only about expressing thankfulness for what God has done for us, but it is also about modeling thankfulness for those around us and bringing out the best in relationships.

The Bible also speaks to the benefits of thankfulness. Psalm 118:1-2 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever”. While this verse encourages believers to give thanks to the Lord, it also notes the positive impact this practice has on us – that being thankful brings us joy and leads us to experience blessings from the Lord. As Proverbs 3:13-15 states, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her”. Clearly, the Bible emphasizes the importance of being thankful and the associated rewards.

The Changes and Development of Thanksgiving

Throughout history, people around the globe have celebrated the harvest in various ways. In the United States, the earliest celebration of Thanksgiving was associated with a prayer of gratitude for the bountiful Pilgrims’ harvest in 1621. Since then, the holiday has evolved significantly. Over time, it has shifted from a strictly religious holiday to a secular, family-oriented celebration.

The current traditions of Thanksgiving have been shaped by various cultures throughout the centuries. For example, the traditional foods associated with the day have been influenced by Native American cuisine, including corn, pumpkin, squash, as well as turkey. Furthermore, the parades and football games have their roots in the 19th century, during which time these festivities started appearing in newspapers to encourage Americans to celebrate the holiday.

Finally, more recently, Thanksgiving has become a day to recognize the contributions of those in our lives, such as family members, friends, teachers, and the various people who enrich our lives. For many, it is a day to recognize their blessings and thank those who have had a positive impact on their lives.

The Significance of Spending Thanksgiving with Family and Friends

Thanksgiving is often a time to come together with family and friends to celebrate the blessings of the past year and give thanks to God. In this way, the holiday has become a special time to express our thanks to those closest to us. Spending time with loved ones is an important way to foster relationships and create memories.

Research has shown that spending quality time with family and friends is linked to increased happiness and life satisfaction for both children and adults. Additionally, studies have revealed numerous benefits of family time, including improved mental health, increased communication, and better academic performance. Finally, time spent with family serves as an important opportunity for passing down traditions and values, resulting in a stronger sense of community and identity.

The same is true with our relationship to God. Just as we need to spend time furthering our relationships with family and friends, we also need to cultivate our relationship with God. As believers, we should take regular time to thank God for all He has done, to express our need of Him, and to honor Him in our lives.

The Impact of Technology on Celebrating Thanksgiving

The digital age has also had an impact on how we celebrate Thanksgiving. For many, the holiday has become an opportunity to stay in touch with friends and family who may be living far away. With the help of technology, they can now easily stay connected and share special memories with one another.

Additionally, the internet has greatly expanded our access to recipes, allowing us to make unique dishes from different cultures. We can now easily search online for new recipes, learn about different cultural food traditions, and buy ingredients from online retailers in order to recreate the perfect Thanksgiving meal. Moreover, social media platforms provide us with a new way to connect with family and friends on a daily basis and to share images of our Thanksgiving meals with them.

Unfortunately, there can be a downside to technology’s influence during Thanksgiving. Many of us become so entrenched in our technology, such as our phones and laptops, that we forget to truly connect with those around us and express our gratitude for them. We allow ourselves to become distracted by social media, emails, and text messages, instead of focusing on the opportunity to cultivate meaningful connections with people.


In conclusion, Thanksgiving is a holiday that provides us with an opportunity to express our thanks to God, to family and friends, and to all the blessings of the year. The Bible teaches us the importance of being thankful, and encourages us to express our gratitude to God and to show our thankfulness to those around us. Through traditional customs, spiritual disciplines, and modern technology, we can celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving in meaningful and special ways.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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